Hansen's Northwest Native Plant Database

Personal Care with Natives

A few Northwest Native plants are noted by historians as being useful in personal care. Of course, Native Peoples and early settlers did not buy their shampoo and toothpaste at the supermarket so we can be sure they used what was at hand. It is quite possible that a smashed strawberry will make teeth whiter. At the very least, it would be a delicious experiment!

Please use caution when preparing or eating any parts of a plant. Identification of the species and knowledge of a plantís toxicity are both essential before using any plant species medicinally or otherwise. Please consult with a heath professional before attempting to treat any ailment.

At right is Northwest Native Wood's Strawberry (Fragaria woodsii). If I were taking this photo, that luscious strawberry would be eaten milliseconds after the shutter snapped.

Botanical name

Common name


Part used


Adiantum aleuticum Maidenhair fern Hair Green leaves
Ceanothus Blueblossom, Wild lilac, Sweet bush, Buck brush Skin Blossoms Rub briskly on skin
Clematis ligusticifolia Virgin's Bower Shampoo Leaves and bark
Cornus sericea Red osier dogwood Toothpowder Bark, powdered Good for gums and white teeth
Fragaria Wild strawberries Skin, tooth whitener Fruit Cut fruit and rub over face immediately after washing for sunburn. If burn is bad, rub juice into skin, leave for 30 minutes, wash with warm water with benzoin. Do not use soap. Use fresh fruit to whiten teeth: coat teeth with juice, leave for about five minutes, rinse with warm water with pinch of bicarbonate of soda.
Malus fusca Western crabapple Dentifrice Fruit
The three shrubs below are said to have been smoked by Native Peoples and early settlers.
Arctostaphylos columbiana Hairy manzanita Smoking Leaves Dried
Arctostaphylos uva-ursi Kinnikinnik, Bearberry Smoking Leaves Dried
Ceanothus Blueblossom, Wild lilac, Sweet bush, Buck brush Smoking Leaves Dried
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